|Publication number||US20050059479 A1|
|Application number||US 10/897,974|
|Publication date||Mar 17, 2005|
|Filing date||Jul 23, 2004|
|Priority date||Jul 25, 2003|
|Also published as||CA2533602A1, CA2533602C, CN1893851A, CN100577054C, DE602004031242D1, EP1667546A1, EP1667546B1, WO2005011428A1|
|Publication number||10897974, 897974, US 2005/0059479 A1, US 2005/059479 A1, US 20050059479 A1, US 20050059479A1, US 2005059479 A1, US 2005059479A1, US-A1-20050059479, US-A1-2005059479, US2005/0059479A1, US2005/059479A1, US20050059479 A1, US20050059479A1, US2005059479 A1, US2005059479A1|
|Inventors||Richard Soltys, Richard Huizinga|
|Original Assignee||Bally Gaming International, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (99), Referenced by (54), Classifications (10), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The disclosure is generally related to the gaming industry, and particularly to uniquely encoded casino gaming chips of various denominations.
Casinos use gaming chips for many of their games, for example, Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, and Poker. Gaming chips are preferred, in part, as a way to disassociate the relationship between real money and the wagering process. Gaming chips are typically available in $1, $5, $25, $100, $500, $1,000, and $5,000 denominations. The relative denominations of the gaming chips are visually distinguishable by variations in color, size, patterns, logos, or even explicit denomination markings, for example.
Many casinos find it advantageous to customize their chips with their own logos or designs. These custom chips are used not only to thwart counterfeiters, but also for advertisement purposes and to distinguish one casino's chips from that of other casinos. Many casinos even permit the use of specialty chips, which can be manufactured for certain groups of people, for instance, executives attending a corporate retreat. From an advertising perspective, a market exists for local merchants such as restaurants, hotels, and theaters to have their logos or designs portrayed on casino chips.
The primary purpose of developing distinguishable gaming chips is to prevent counterfeiting operations and make inventory functions more feasible. Since at least the early 1900's, counterfeiters have recognized that casinos have a monumental task of trying to track and control the whereabouts of their gaming chips. For instance, local merchants along the Las Vegas strip used to allow patrons to use casino gaming chips for everyday purchases of items like shoes and clothes at the local shops. Even though the United States government restricted shops from accepting gaming chips, which the government determined to be unauthorized “real” money, casinos still permit patrons to leave the casino with gaming chips as keepsakes or souvenirs. Therefore, counterfeiters will likely always have easy access to a casino's gaming chips. Casinos periodically replace their existing chip inventory with newly designed chips as a method of thwarting counterfeiters.
Due to the lead time to receive a new shipment of chips and the associated cost, casinos have searched for other security methods to protect the integrity of their gaming chips. Some other chip security features that have been adopted by casinos are metallic grids, see-through “lunettes” (windows), complex designs such as holograms, and even microchips. Since the standard method of making gaming chips is by injection molding, the chips with the metallic grids and complex designs require highly specialized and expensive tooling. Design changes result in long lead times and high costs associated with retooling. These chips are often processed in bulk and by denominational batches so that the molds and tooling can be repeatedly used. Although some gaming chip manufacturers allow purchasers to order customized chips, these chips are expensive and fairly limited in their design features. Likewise, gaming chips with embedded microchips are expensive. Because many of the larger casinos have literally millions of chips in circulation on any given day, it can be cost prohibitive for the casino to stock customized or microchip embedded gaming chips.
There is generally a need to design and manufacturer uniquely identifiable gaming chips en masse at a reasonable cost and within a much shortened cycle time (i.e., the elapsed time between the chip order by a casino or other customer until the gaming chips are produced, packaged, and delivered to the respective purchaser).
The present disclosure is generally directed toward a uniquely identifiable gaming chip. One aspect includes the printing of indicia on a substrate where the indicia can be a machine-readable symbol encoding a unique identifier, a machine-readable symbol not encoding a unique identifier, a human-readable symbol, a human-readable graphical human-readable symbol, or any combination of the above. A variety of printing methods may be employed to print the indicia onto the substrate. The printed substrate portions can be formed into three-dimensional shapes with the printed indicia on the inner surface. The pre-formed chip members can then be inserted into an injection mold where thermoplastic resin may be injected into the mold, between the respective chip members, to bond the chip members together.
The utilization of a computing system and digital printing techniques advantageously allows any indicia to be quickly designed, created and printed onto the substrate irrespective of the complexity of the designed indicia. Low setup costs and almost no production down time can be achieved by using digital printing techniques, even when each gaming chip is unique. Further, a significant business advantage results from elimination of the tooling changeover requirements common to multi-shot injection molds.
In one aspect, a method to produce gaming chips comprises providing a first chip member having an exterior surface and an interior surface opposed to the exterior surface, the interior surface of the first chip member forming a cavity and bearing at least one unique identifier; and filling the cavity formed by the second surface of the first chip member to seal the at least one unique identifier in an interior of the first chip member, the first chip member being sufficiently transparent that the at least one unique identifier is optically detectable from an exterior of the first chip member.
In another aspect, the method comprises providing a first chip member having an approximately planar portion and a perimeter edge extending perpendicularly from a perimeter of the planar portion, the perimeter edge bearing at least one machine-readable symbol encoding a unique identifier; providing a second chip member having an approximately planar portion; and adhering the second chip member to the first chip member to seal the at least one machine-readable symbol encoding the unique identifier in an interior of the gaming chip, the first chip member being sufficiently transparent that the at least one machine-readable symbol encoding the unique identifier is optically detectable from an exterior of the gaming chip.
In yet another aspect, the method comprises printing at least a machine-readable symbol on a plurality of regions on a first surface of at least the first substrate, the machine-readable symbol encoding an identifier that uniquely identifies the gaming chip; creating at least one chip member from the first substrate, the chip member having an inner and an outer surface, at least the one chip member bearing the machine-readable symbol on the inner surface thereof; creating another chip member; positioning at least one chip member in a back-to-back relationship with another chip member such that any inner surface bearing the machine-readable symbol is distally located by approximately the thickness of the substrate from the outer surface of the chip member; and cohering the one chip member with another chip member such that the machine-readable symbol on at least the one chip member is readable from a location external of the gaming chip.
In still another aspect, the method comprises remotely receiving digital data, the digital data comprising information for producing the gaming chip; at least one unique indicia being included in the information comprising the digital data; encrypting the information; encoding the information into a machine-readable symbol, the machine-readable symbol; printing the machine-readable symbol onto a region of at least a substrate; forming at least a first chip member from the substrate, the first chip member including the machine-readable symbol; forming a second chip member; and coupling the first chip member with the second chip member to produce a gaming chip such that the machine-readable symbol is readable from a location external of the gaming chip.
In another aspect, a gaming chip for use in a casino environment, the gaming chip comprises an approximately planar first surface; an approximately planar second surface; spaced from and approximately parallel to the first surface; a perimeter edge extending between the first and the second surfaces; and a unique indicia extending along at least a portion of the perimeter edge on an interior of the gaming chip, wherein the perimeter edge is sufficiently transparent that the unique indicia is optically detectable from an exterior of the first chip member.
In another aspect, the gaming chip comprises an approximately planar first surface; an approximately planar second surface; spaced from and approximately parallel to the first surface; a perimeter side surface extending at least partially between the first and the second surfaces; and a unique indicia located on at least a portion of the gaming chip, the unique indicia protected from wear, abrasion, or damage wherein the unique indicia is located beneath a sufficiently transparent member such that the unique indicia is optically detectable from a location exterior of the gaming chip.
In the drawings, identical reference numbers identify similar elements or acts. The sizes and relative positions of elements in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale. For example, the shapes of various elements and angles are not drawn to scale, and some of these elements are arbitrarily enlarged and positioned to improve drawing legibility. Further, the particular shapes of the elements as drawn, are not intended to convey any information regarding the actual shape of the particular elements, and have been solely selected for ease of recognition in the drawings.
In the following description, certain specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of various embodiments of the invention. However, one skilled in the art will understand that the invention may be practiced without these details. In other instances, well-known structures and processes associated with computing systems including CAD computing systems, various printing systems and techniques, die stamping methods, and injection molding systems and techniques have not been shown or described in detail in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring descriptions of the embodiments of the invention.
Unless the context requires otherwise, throughout the specification and claims, which follow, the word “comprise” and variations thereof, such as “comprises” and “comprising” are to be construed in an ‘inclusive’ sense, that is as “including, but not limited to.”
The term “indicia” as used throughout the specification is meant to broadly describe any type of symbol, picture, text, design, or any other subject matter that can be printed onto a substrate. The indicia can be in a machine-readable format (hereinafter referred to as a “machine-readable symbol”), human-readable format (hereinafter referred to as a “human-readable symbol”), or some combination thereof. For example, a machine-readable symbol may be a barcode symbol, whereas a human-readable symbol may be a digital picture of a building taken with a digital camera.
The headings provided herein are for convenience only and do not interpret the scope or meaning of the claimed invention.
The described processes and structures may allow the production of casino gaming chips with complex graphic designs and patterns incorporated therein. Casinos, selected customers, or even individuals can select their own complex graphic designs. The lead-time for manufacturing these customized chips can be greatly reduced with the advent of digital printing techniques. In addition, the gaming chips should be capable of being mass produced at a competitive cost, extremely flexible in designs (e.g., logos, advertisements, etc.), and having significantly reduced lead times compared with conventionally manufactured gaming chips even where each gaming chip is unique (e.g., carries a unique identifier).
The described processes and structures may allow for the production of high quality gaming chip for commercial or personal use in casinos. Some desirable attributes of the gaming chips include excellent graphics quality, surface texture, uniformity and consistency among manufactured chips, and chip weight.
The described processes and structures may allow for the development of a gaming chip with robust and uncompromising security features. The security or anti-counterfeiting features of various embodiments of gaming chips discussed infra are primarily that these chips are difficult to duplicate without substantial technical expertise and capital investment, the chips are integrally assembled so that a chip could only be disassembled through destructive means, and the chips are encoded with a unique, permanently embedded identifier on each chip. The identifier would preferably be in machine-readable format in lieu of a human-readable format. Thus, the casino may quickly and automatically detect the introduction of any counterfeit chip.
The Gaming Chip Product
Casino gaming chips are primarily manufactured in two nominal diameters: 39 mm and 41 mm, and the overall gaming chip thickness is typically about 3.3 mm. The embodiments discussed herein may be extended to gaming chips of various shapes, sizes, and configurations, for example rectangular shaped chips with rounded edges.
Additionally or alternatively, casinos may employ substrates 38 of different colors to identify the casino, chip denomination, or both. The colored substrate 38 should still be sufficiently transparent to permit any indicia printed on the interior surface 26, 28 of the gaming chip 10 to be readable from the exterior of the chip. This alternative can be an inexpensive means of mass-producing single-colored gaming chips 10 according to the present embodiment while retaining the security feature of each chip 10 having the machine-readable symbol 30 encoding an identifier that uniquely identifies that gaming chip 10.
The filler material 20 can constitute a portion or substantially all of the core of the gaming chip 10. The filler material 20 bonds the first chip member 12 to the second chip member 14 during the chip forming process—discussed infra. The filler material 20 can be a type of resin or adhesive material capable of durably bonding with the respective chip members and curing into a substantially solid member.
Referring back to
As discussed above, at least one of the chip members 12, 14 having the machine-readable symbol 30 printed about its perimeter 32 may be pre-formed into a geometric shape. For example, a cup-shaped gaming chip may be created from a circular-shaped printed substrate portion when at least one of the chip members 12, 14 is pre-formed to have a cavity or pre-formed such that the perimeter 32 is made to extend substantially perpendicular to a planar portion 26, 28 of the chip member 12, 14. One aspect of pre-forming one of the chip members 12, 14 is that the indicia may become distorted during the pre-forming process. In a situation where the machine-readable symbol 30 is a barcode symbol, for example, the distortion may make the barcode unreadable.
To counter any undesired distortion, a mathematically pre-distorted indicia 31 may be printed onto the substrate as shown in
A graphical or textual human-readable symbol 36 may also be printed on the inner surface 26, 28 of either or both chip members 12, 14. The human-readable symbol may be digitally generated and integrated with the machine-readable symbol 30 or may be created or printed independently therefrom. The human-readable symbol 36 may comprise any variety of designs, logos, monograms, text, numbers, symbols, etc. and may cover a substantial portion of the chip member inner surfaces 26, 28. The human-readable symbol 36 may allow humans to visually distinguish the chip denomination, issuing casino, or both, for example. The human-readable symbol 36 can encompass a variety of colors, patterns, or other identifiable features to include corporate logos, designs for specialty games or events, or seasonal themes.
Computing System Environment
A customer may select the design parameters of the gaming chip 10 with a gaming chip design program 106, discussed in more detail below. The customer or a sales representative may forward those parameters from the remote computing system 42 by a variety of means, for example over an Internet connection 96. The gaming chip design parameters can be used by the host computing system 44 to quickly produce customized gaming chips, which may be delivered to the customer using conventional shipping or courier means that afford sufficient security.
The host computing system 44 includes a conventional mainframe or mini-computer, referred to herein as the computer aided design (“CAD”) workstation 46 and a server computer 48. While shown as separate devices, the server functionality can be implemented within the CAD workstation 46, which may reduce the cost of the system 40, but may also cause an unacceptable degradation in system performance.
The CAD workstation 46 includes a processing unit 50, a system memory 52 and a system bus 54 that couples various system components including the system memory 52 to the processing unit 50. The CAD workstation 46 and/or server computer 48, will at times be referred to in the singular herein, but this is not intended to limit the application of the invention to a single CAD workstation 46 and/or server computer 48 since in typical embodiments, there will be more than one CAD workstation 46 and/or server computer 48.
The gaming chip computing system 40 may employ other computers, such as conventional personal computers, where the size or scale of the system allows. The processing unit 50 may be any logic processing unit, such as one or more central processing units (CPUs), digital signal processors (DSPs), application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), etc. Unless described otherwise, the construction and operation of the various blocks shown in
The system bus 54 can employ any known bus structures or architectures, including a memory bus with memory controller, a peripheral bus, and a local bus. The system memory 52 includes read-only memory (“ROM”) 56 and random access memory (“RAM”) 58. A basic input/output system (“BIOS”) 60, which can form part of the ROM 56, contains basic routines that help transfer information between elements within the CAD workstation 46, such as during start-up.
The CAD workstation 46 also includes a hard disk drive 62 for reading from and writing to a hard disk 64, and an optical disk drive 66 and a magnetic disk drive 68 for reading from and writing to removable optical disks 40 and magnetic disks 42, respectively. The optical disk 40 can be a CD-ROM, while the magnetic disk 42 can be a magnetic floppy disk or diskette. The hard disk drive 62, optical disk drive 66 and magnetic disk drive 68 communicate with the processing unit 50 via the bus 54. The hard disk drive 62, optical disk drive 66 and magnetic disk drive 68 may include interfaces or controllers (not shown) coupled between such drives and the bus 54, as is known by those skilled in the relevant art. The drives 62, 66 and 68, and their associated computer-readable media 64, 70, 72, provide nonvolatile storage of computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules and other data for the CAD workstation 46. Although the depicted CAD workstation 46 employs hard disk 64, optical disk 70 and magnetic disk 72, those skilled in the relevant art will appreciate that other types of computer-readable media that can store data accessible by a computer may be employed, such as magnetic cassettes, flash memory cards, digital video disks (“DVD”), Bernoulli cartridges, RAMs, ROMs, smart cards, etc.
Program modules can be stored in the system memory 52, such as an operating system 74, one or more application programs 76, other programs or modules 78 and program data 80. The system memory 52 may also include a Web client or browser 82 for permitting the CAD workstation 46 to access and exchange data with sources such as Web sites of the Internet, corporate intranets, or other networks as described below, as well as other server applications on server computers including the server computer 48, such as those further discussed below. The browser 82 in the depicted embodiment is markup language based, such as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Extensible Markup Language (XML) or Wireless Markup Language (WML), and operates with markup languages that use syntactically delimited characters added to the data of a document to represent the structure of the document. A number of Web clients or browsers are commercially available such as NETSCAPE NAVIGATOR from America Online, and INTERNET EXPLORER available from Microsoft of Redmond, Wash.
While shown in
The CAD workstation 46 can operate in a networked environment using logical connections to one or more remote computers, such as the server computer 48 and remote computing system 42. The server computer 48 can be another personal computer, a server, another type of computer, or a collection of more than one computer communicatively linked together and typically includes many or all of the elements described above for the CAD workstation 46. The server computer 48 is logically connected to one or more of the remote computing systems 42 and CAD workstations 46 under any known method of permitting computers to communicate, such as through a local area network (“LAN”) 94, or a wide area network (“WAN”) or the Internet 96. Such networking environments are well known in wired and wireless enterprise-wide computer networks, intranets, extranets, and the Internet. Other embodiments include other types of communication networks including telecommunications networks, cellular networks, paging networks, and other mobile networks.
When used in a LAN networking environment, the CAD workstation 46 is connected to the LAN 94 through an adapter or network interface 98 (communicatively linked to the bus 54). When used in a WAN networking environment, the CAD workstation 46 may include a modem 98 or other device, such as the network interface 98, for establishing communications over the WAN/Internet 96. The modem 98 is shown in
The host computing system 44 may include one or more peripheral printer devices for producing gaming chip members 12, 14 having printed machine-readable symbols 30, human-readable symbols 36, or both based on the digital data received. For example, the host computing system 44 may include a substrate printer 100 coupled to the CAD workstation 46 to receive machine instructions over the LAN 94 and/or WAN or Internet 96.
The server computer 48 contains many of the same or similar structures, systems and subsystems as the CAD workstation 46, thus only the differences will be discussed in detail. The server computer 48 includes server applications 102 for the routing of instructions, programs, data and agents between the remote computing systems 42 and CAD workstation 46. For example the server applications 102 may include conventional server applications such as WINDOWS NT 4.0 Server, and/or WINDOWS 2000 Server, available from Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Wash. Additionally, or alternatively, the server applications 102 can include any of a number of commercially available Web servers, such as INTERNET INFORMATION SERVICE from Microsoft Corporation and/or IPLANET from Netscape. The server computer 48 also includes one or more secure Webpages 104, serving as a user interface (“UI”) for exchanging data, information and requests between the diagnostic and/or clinical sites and the design and/or manufacturing sites. The server applications 102 and/or Webpages 104 can be stored on any of a variety of computer-readable media. The Webpages 104 may further be linked to the client gaming chip design program 106.
Gaming Chip Design Program
A customer can have substantial latitude in customizing their gaming chips 10. One skilled in the art will appreciate however, that certain design parameters may have to be held within certain ranges or controlled by the manufacturer due to production or security reasons. For example, only certain geometric shapes may be available based on the casino's specifications or because of the available tooling for accomplishing any required injection molding. Due to security concerns, the customer may be limited in selecting a range of unique identifiers or the manufacture may select the unique identifiers, which may be integrated with other data such as the casino information and/or chip denomination. Additionally, the gaming chips 10, for security reasons, will be produced with the machine-readable symbol located on the interior portion of the chip, yet visible from the chip exterior. This design feature would be required in all custom designed gaming chips in order to insure that the machine-readable symbols 30 located on the chip could not be manipulated, damaged, worn off, or transferred.
The program 106 may have drop down menus, windows depicting the gaming chip components as the user builds the chip, color palettes (not shown), or dialog boxes (not shown). Referring to
Referring now to
Referring back to
The headings of the menus, sub menus, and selectable items are provided herein for convenience only and do not interpret the scope or meaning of the claimed invention. In addition, the headings are for illustrative purposes only and should not be interpreted as limiting the program 106 to a particular enabled embodiment.
Injection Molding Apparatus for Producing Gaming Chips
The second chip member 14 may be configured such that the inner surface 28 faces the first chip member 12. The inner surface 28 of the second chip member, in the present embodiment, includes at least the printed machine-readable symbol 30 (depicted as horizontally extending lines along the vertical sidewall 24 of the second chip member 14) and may also include an integrated human-readable symbol 36 (not shown), as previously discussed.
The chip members 12, 14 can be statically retained within mold 40 by applying a vacuum source, identified with the letter “V,” to each respective mold half 142, 144. The injection port 146 can be used to transmit the filler material 20 into the zone between the first chip 12 and second chip 14. The filler material 20 injected therein bonds the first chip 12 to the second chip 14. The bonding process may be thermally, chemically, or pressure activated, for example. One skilled in the art may recognize that there are a variety of adequate devices for performing injection-molding operations, to include other mold configurations and means for injecting the filler material into the mold. Therefore, the reference to
Methods for Producing Gaming Chips
A process 200 for producing gaming chips can commence with the input of data into the remote computing system 42, either manually or automatically. The input of the data can be guided or controlled by the gaming chip design application 106 discussed above. A host computing system 40 can remotely receive the data where the information can be verified to be within the available manufacturing parameters. If the any changes, additions, or deletions are required based on the check of the information, the data can be returned or the data can be automatically corrected if the changes are minor. If the data is returned, it can be resubmitted and re-verified. From that point, the physical stages of producing the gaming chip can begin as described below.
Alternatively, in step 206, a value may be generated from a seed, where the seed can, in and of itself, identify certain information about a casino, the chip denomination, or other. In step 208, the seed can be incremented to create a series of values. The selected value can then be added to the information detailed in step 210. Although using an incremented seed to generate successive values may yield unique identifiers, it may still be beneficial to test each identifier for uniqueness.
In step 212, the value obtained in step 210 can be tested for whether it is unique. If the value is not unique, then in step 214, a new and different value can be generated and then this value may then be re-included with any other information back in step 210. If the value is unique, then the computing system 40 in step 216 may update a database of “in use” values, for example. “In-use” values are those values that have already been encoded into a previously produced gaming chip 10. However, if the value was generated with a seed and an algorithm, for instance, the value may be inherently unique, thus eliminating the need to test the value in step 212.
In step 218, each item of information obtained in step 202 may, as an option, be separately encoded. The encoding process simply converts identified symbols, characters, or numbers into a corresponding code, for example, letters and numbers are routinely represented with binary data. Separately encoding the information from step 210 may be useful when working with non-standard symbols or graphic designs. The separate and distinct encoding of the information from step 210 allows all the data to be in the same format (i.e., code) before combining the data.
Alternatively, in step 220, the information obtained in step 210 may simply be combined together, without the initial encoding from step 218. The combined information can be strung together, for example, which includes the unique value, thus creating a single, unique identifier. In step 222, the unique identifier can be encrypted for security reasons. The encryption of the unique identifier may be more efficient if the information to be encrypted is all in the same format. As one skilled in the art will appreciate, there are a variety of encryption techniques and levels of security associated with the different techniques. The encryption techniques employed herein are those that are known in the art.
In step 224, the unique identifier can be encoded or converted into a machine-readable symbol 30. The encoding of the machine-readable symbol 30 can be controlled by the desired print quality, symbology standards, and if applicable, application (e.g., a particular industry that has developed a subset of print or symbology standards) standards. For example, one type of machine-readable symbol 30 is a one-dimensional (“1-D”) barcode symbology (i.e., Code39, UPC/EAN, or 93I). The 1-D symbology may be repeatedly printed at least on the perimeter 32 of the chip members 12, 14. The machine-readably symbol 30 may also be a two-dimensional “area” or “array” symbol. In step 226, the digital (e.g., electronic) data defining the machine-readable symbol 30 can be downloaded, sent, or transmitted to a printing device. The printing device may be configured to accept a substrate and in step 228, the printing device can print at least a machine-readable symbol 30 onto the substrate surface. For example, the printer may thermally print using ultraviolet or infrared ink. One skilled in the art will appreciate that there are a large variety of techniques to print machine-readable symbols 30, and the computing system 40 can select an appropriate printing technique based on the substrate material, the desired print time, desired resolution and other parameters. A suitable resolution in some embodiments may be approximately 600 dpi. In addition, step 228 is not limited to merely printing machine-readable symbols, but also includes the printing of a human-readable symbol 36 as well. The human-readable symbol 36 can be a series of colors or patterns that distinguish a certain denomination of the gaming chip, the logo of the casino, advertising messages, monograms, or any other graphical text, numeric, or holographic illustration.
In step 230, the chip members 12, 14 can be created from the substrate. The chip members 12, 14 may be die-cut, stamped or similarly created from the substrate 38. Optionally, the chip members 12, 14 may be pre-formed to shape the chip members 12, 14 into a complementary configuration for insertion into the mold 140. For example, the pre-forming process can convert the chip members 12, 14 from having a disk shape to having a cap or cup shape.
In step 232, the chip members 12, 14 may be inserted into the mold 140. Recalling that the machine-readable symbol 30 should remain on the inner surface 26, 28 of one or both chip members 12, 14, the chip members 12, 14 can be inserted into the mold 140 such that the printed surface of the chip member 12, 14 faces into a mold region, which is the region defined by the opposing mold halves 142, 144. In step 234, filler material 20 can be injected into the mold 140 to bond the chip members 12, 14 together. The molding and injection steps 232, 234 may also include increasing the temperature and/or pressure in the mold 140 to structurally integrate the various components of the gaming chip 10.
Step 238 represents an optional step for performing any trimming or cosmetic operations. For example, the access locations 146 may be filled or covered, beveled edges 22 can be machined at the chip corners, any molding draft lines can be trimmed off, or the gaming chip 10 may be polished.
An important aspect of the illustrated process is to allow a producer of gaming chips 10 to quickly and inexpensively produce a plurality of gaming chips 10 wherein each gaming chip is encoded with a unique identifier. One significant advantage of the process 200 is that the resulting gaming chip 10 is structurally integrated due to the bonding that occurs between the respective gaming chip components. Another advantage of the process 200 is that the machine-readable symbol 30 is embedded within the interior of the chip (i.e., printed on the inner surface 26, 26 of the substrate 38) while the machine-readable symbol 30 remains readable through the transparent substrate from the exterior of the chip 10. The embedding of the machine-readably symbol 30 within the structurally integrated gaming chip 10 makes the chip more tamper and counterfeit resistant while also creating a durable exterior surface that can be worn, touched, or scratched without damaging the embedded machine-readable symbol 30.
Alternate Gaming Chip Products and Methods of Making Same
The bonding of the chip members 512, 514 may be done such that the machine-readable symbols 330 located on the first vertical sidewall 332 first chip member 512 are rotatably offset with respect to the machine-readable symbols located on the second vertical sidewall 334 of the second chip member 514. For example, if each chip member 312, 314 has a repeating pattern of machine-readable symbols (e.g., barcode symbols) on the vertical sidewalls 332, 334, respectively, the chip members 512, 514 can be aligned such that the barcode lines, for example, of the first chip member 512 do not vertically align with the barcode lines of the second chip member 514. The purpose of staggering the machine-readable symbols 330 is to enhance the probability that a scanner or optical sensor can acquire a successful first read of the gaming chip 510 from a remote distance on a gaming table.
The center chip member 416 may be a plastic slug made from a high specific gravity material with an over-molded cover. The cover may be made from a soft, over-molded thermoplastic elastomer such as SANTOPRENE®, available from the Monsanto Corporation, or TEKBOND®, available from the Teknor Apex Corporation. The center chip 416 may also be a pre-molded metal (e.g., brass) slug. The purpose of including the center chip member 416 is to provide the gaming chip 410 with more weight. Many casino patrons prefer a chip that is comparably weighted to old-style clay chips. One skilled in the art will recognize that any of the embodiments herein may employ a plastic or metal slug between the respective chip members.
The gaming chip 410 may further include a second filler 418. The second filler 418 can be used to pre-assemble the chip members 412, 414, the center chip member 416, and the alignment member 424. In particular, the second filler 418 may be used to stabilize the center chip member 416 centrally and symmetrically relative to the chip members 412, 414 before the filler material 420 is injected therein.
The first and second chip members 512, 514 can be pre-formed into the desired shape. The second chip member 514 can be formed with a recessed region 540 for receiving the center chip member 516. The second chip member 514 may also have an interlocking pattern 542 for complementarily engaging the first chip member 512. The first chip member 512 can be pre-formed in a similar manner. The first and second chip members 512, 514 can be made from a variety of materials such as Polycarbonate, LEXAN®—available from the General Electric Company, Polyester, polystyrene, MYLAR®—available from DuPont Teijin Films, Ltd., vinyl, LUCITE®—available from ICI Acrylics Inc., acrylic, or other similar plastic or composite materials.
A substrate band 524 can be bonded to the perimeter of the chip 510. The substrate band 524 can have a machine-readable symbol 530 printed on its inner surface 526. The machine-readable symbol 530 may also be repeatedly printed on the substrate band inner surface 526. The gaming chip 510 may also include decals 518 that can be adhered to the exterior, horizontal surfaces of the gaming chip for decorative or aesthetic purposes. The inner surfaces of the decals 518 may have a printed human-readable symbol 536.
In the particular embodiment, the interlocking features of the respective chip members may substantially fill the space within the interior region of gaming chip 510. As such, the filler material 520 can be an adhesive, for example a temperature- activated adhesive that can be injected to substantially wet the facing surfaces of the center chip member 516, the first chip member 512, the second chip member 514, and the substrate band 524. Alternatively, the interlocking features may not take up much space within the interior region of the gaming chip 510 and filler material 520 can be used to bond the respective members together. As a finishing step, decals 518 may be added to cover any injection ports 544 or solely for decoration purposes. Conversely, the decals 518 may be included in the molding process such that the decals 518 become structurally bonded with the first and second chip members 512, 514, respectively.
Although specific embodiments of, and examples for, the invention are described herein for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, as will be recognized by those skilled in the relevant art. The various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments. Aspects of the invention can be modified, if necessary, to employ systems, circuits and concepts of the various patents, applications and publications to provide yet further embodiments of the invention.
All of the above U.S. patents, U.S. patent application publications, U.S. patent applications, foreign patents, foreign patent applications and non-patent publications referred to in this specification and/or listed in the Application Data Sheet, are incorporated herein by reference, in their entirety.
These and other changes can be made to the invention in light of the above-detailed description. In general, in the following claims, the terms used should not be construed to limit the invention to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification and the claims, but should be construed to include all imaging and illumination systems and methods that operate in accordance with the claims. Accordingly, the invention is not limited by the disclosure, but instead its scope is to be determined entirely by the following claims.
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|International Classification||B29C45/14, A44C21/00|
|Cooperative Classification||A44C21/00, B29C45/14467, B29C45/14688, B29C2045/14737, B29L2031/529|
|European Classification||B29C45/14G, A44C21/00|
|Jul 18, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BALLY GAMING INTERNATIONAL, INC., NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SOLTYS, RICHARD;HUIZINGA, RICHARD;REEL/FRAME:017950/0581;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060627 TO 20060628